Blu-ray Review: Akame Ga Kill – Collection 1
01/03/2016 3 Comments
Akame Ga Kill has been a much sought after series and it’s finally coming to the UK starting with this Collection 1 release! But is the show worth the hype or is it just another sword-slaying anime series covered in blood? Well let’s take a look in our review.
When he set off for the Capital, all Tatsumi wanted was a way to make money. Instead, he finds himself rescued from a fate worse than death by a group of assassins known as Night Raid, and thrust into the middle of a bloody revolution.
On the one side: Prime Minister Honest, his secret police, elite squad of assassins, and the armies of the Empire.On the other: Night Raid and a handful of rebels desperate to overthrow the brutal regime of Honest’s puppet emperor. Leveling the playing field: the Imperial Arms, a legendary set of unstoppable weapons created in the distant past. But to use an Imperial Arm is practically a death sentence, for only a select few can even survive using them… and when two Arms go against each other, only the user of one is likely to survive in Akame ga Kill!
Akame Ga Kill may as well be considered a spiritual spin-off of Berserk as while the colourful cast of characters, and the types of weapons used, are different the elements which made up Berserk can easily be found. The brutal violence, the pointless monologue of swearing and the objective of restoring a nation is all here – the only real difference is that its not as progressively enjoyable as the aforementioned title. Akame Ga Kill features intense action-sequences, over-the-top violence and extensive cast of characters but what it doesn’t have is a decent progressive story; instead it just seems to move onwards to the next fight. This isn’t exactly a bad thing; but some additional context to give the objective more meaning would’ve been nice. Alas; let’s move forward!
The story of Akame Ga Kill begins with Tatsumi, a country-boy who makes his way to the capital in order to earn money for his village; however just minutes after arriving in the city he finds himself not only being swindled out of all his money but recruited by a rogue group of assassins known as Night Raid. It’s an interesting first episode as it features a unique mixture of deceit, violence and truth behind the people of the capital; but more importantly its one that sets up the next selection of episodes quite nicely. It’s a fine balance; and its one that works quite well within Akame Ga Kill,but theres still more left to explore.
So; who exactly are Night Raid? Well they are a group of assassin’s working in conjunction with a rebel fraction that aim to kill key-figures within the empire, including the minister, so that peace and order can be once again brought to the country. Alas this is where our story really begins to move forward; as for the next selection of episodes we see Tatsumi trained by various members of Night Raid while taking part in his own missions; some more deadly than others. It’s a bit of a ‘rinse and repeat’ treatment for these few episodes; but it does give us a closer insight into each characters personality. For instance Akame, the second lead protagonist of the series, is calm and collective but also has an emotional soft-side meanwhile Baleet is an ex-solider turned who rogue who offers a more ‘quirky’ side of the story with his homo-sexuality.
Of course these are just a brief examples of some of the characters and its easy to say that viewers will easily connect and find their favourite. That’s not all either; as each member of Night Raid, as well as key-figures within the army, wield an imperial arms weapon – a piece of equipment with deadly powers born from magic centuries ago. As you would expect each weapon wields a different type of power and as the series progresses we see more of these ‘unusual’ powers unfold. Oddly enough these weapons can not be ‘handed out’ to anyone; and as such these weapons must accept the wielder and generate a connection; a similar ideal to those found within Soul Eater but on a much more ‘destructive’ scale.
In any event it’s not until half-way through this set where things ‘really’ start to get interesting; For starters not only do two members of Night Raid find themselves ambushed by a soldier with her own imperial Arms, which brings about a rather emotional ending to the episode, but the arrival of General Esdeath, and her newly formed Yager Squad, spells destruction for Night Raid. It’s relatively amusing that this Part 1 instalment of Akame Ga Kill is only a dozen episodes or so long and yet a fair amount of ground is covered. Why is this? Well it’s because most episodes do not ‘inter-link’ with each other and as such some of its progressive narrative can be lost. Sure enough storyline aspects, such as characters died or the arrival of new members, is brought across – but on the whole storyline elements found within one episode will not be found in the next; that is unless it’s a two-parter.
This is where Akame Ga Kill tends to fall down slightly; the introduction and build-up within the first few episodes leads to a relatively shocking sixth episode but after that each episode looses something and instead of being enjoyable to watch it actually feels more like a chore – it’s like the momentum it built up has just stopped and it’s frustrating. Even the arrival of stronger opponents does nothing to bring this momentum back; although it does lead to a few interesting moments between Tatsumi and Esdeath; but I’ll let you explore that one on your own.
Despite being a Sentai Filmworks produced title, there is actually a fair amount of bonus content worth exploring on this Blu-ray disc; specifically twelve one minute animated shorts as well as textless songs and trailers.
- 12x 1 Minute Chibi Shorts
- Textless Opening Animation
- Textless Closing Animation
- Six Trailers for Sentai Fieldwork titles
The twelve one minute shorts are, as one might expect, in Chibi form and unlike other shorts these feature topics that are related to the episode of the same number. These shorts try to provide the comedy that’s potentially lacking from the main series; but as the series itself is relatively serious it does feel ‘strange’ seeing the characters act in a comical fashion. Another interesting aspect is that Sentai Filmworks have actually dubbed these shorts into English; so by changing the audio language you can watch them in either Japanese or English – which is a nice touch!
The remaining bonus content is once again textless songs and a selection of trailers for other Sentai Filmwork releases. It’s also worth mentioning that the first disc features a trailer for Knights of Sidonia before you reach the disc menu.
Media: BD 50 x1, BD 25 x1
Region: A & B
Running Time: 3:33:18 (Disc 1), 1:11:06 (Disc 2)
Video: MPEG-4 AVC
Audio: Dolby TrueHD 5.1 (English), Dolby TrueHD 2.0 (Japanese)
Subtitles: English (Yellow) & English Hard of Hearing (Yellow)
Resolution: 1920×1080 (1080p)
Aspect Ratio: 16:9
Frame Rate: 23.976 fps
Akame Ga Kill – Collection 1 looks to fill the void that Berserk left, with its over-the-top violence and objective of restoring a nation, and while this is true in the early episodes it soon becomes a rather mudane rinse and repeat storyline with a few plot twists and divergents. As mentioned the story follows Tatsumi as he unwillingly becomes a member of Night Raid and as the series progresses we see him train and interact with other characters in the team until he takes part in a mission to assassinate key targets within the capital. Once again it’s not until the half-way point when things take a dramatic turn; beloved characters are killed off in shocking (and not-so-shocking) fashion which then sparks the arrival of new characters – on both sides. A few laughs are also thrown in for measure but at its centre it’s just a show about violence and bloody battles with magic-styled-weapons under the pretence of restoring a nation to its former glory.
Of course the real-reason for Night Raid’s existence is so they can work alongside the resistance to aid in their restructuring of the capital and its government; however this is constantly over-shadowed by the events that unfold in each episode. Akame Ga Kill does have a solid ground and story to follow; but it’s one that rather focuses on the confrontations between characters and the aim to get stronger. A jumbled story if you will; but hopefully by the second half it will make more sense.
This Blu-ray release is of Akame Ga Kill is everything you would expect it to be; with the twelve episodes spread across two discs in both English & Japanese audio formats. Interestingly enough however Sentai Filmworks have opted to give this release some ‘additional’ care as not only is the English soundtrack is Surround Sound but a ‘hard of hearing’ subtitle track has also been provided – something which we rarely ever see in anime releases. That;s not all either as Akame Ga Kill probably features one of the best English Dubs I have ever heard from Sentai Filmworks; with the main characters each having a voice actor suited to their role. Of course not every character sounds perfect; as one of EsDeath’s subordinates sounds terrible. In general though it’s a great dub, which isn’t something we say often. The opening (and ending) sequence have also been translated into English – something which Sentai Filmworks very rarely do on their releases as well. The reason for this positive aspects, dub and presentation, is because Akame Ga Kill was broadcast on Toonami within the US and Sentai Filmworks wanted it to be the best they could provide.
All in all this Blu-ray of Akame Ga Kill – Collection 1 is another superb release by Animatsu Entertainment using disc materials provided by Sentai Filmworks. The downside however is the progressive pacing of the series; sometimes it feels perfect, othertimes it feels jumbled so it will be interesting to see where it goes in Collection 2; but in short Akame Ga Kill was definitely worth the hype and it’s one you should consider watching.
Akame Ga Kill – Collection 1 will be available on DVD, Blu-ray and Collectors Edition Combo Pack from the 7th March 2016.